A political revelation regarding the Star Wars prequel trilogy

I have a confession to make. I am kind of a nerd when it comes to politics and government. I became a journalist because I truly am fascinated by the political process. Things like economic development, infrastructure investment, community engagement, police policy, parks and recreation and more just really do interest me. I enjoyed my time covering meetings and seeing the political process unfold. I covered elections, even interviewed in person Beto O’Rourke before he got famous.

Sure it’s easy to see with that background why I would be a staunch defender of The Phantom Menace in particular, that whole scene with the congress calling for a vote of no confidence in the chancellor really gets my brain juices flowing. But did you know that it’s actually because of Star Wars that I became so fascinated by politics in the first place? Well let me explain.

When I was a kid I loved reading books. I read  books well above my reading  grade. I was reading college level by 5th grade. I remember reading the novelization of Star Wars From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker repeatedly as a kid. Even though it was just a few hints here and there just reading about the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Galactic Empire got me curious as to what all those terms meant.

It was sometime in 5th grade when I started learning the basics of the U.S. system of government. The first time the teacher spelled out the three branches of the government a light  bulb turn on inside. Then I got really excited when I started learning about the Rebellions against the Empire that took place in our nations history. Once I started connecting the concepts I was learning in social studies to the terms I had read in my Star Wars books I became even more entrenched. I remember sitting at home watching C-Span and being mesmerized by the debates. I hadn’t formed my political alliances yet but I was enjoying learning how it all worked.

Once I started reading the Expanded Universe books I started having fantasies of being a governor of a small outer rim system trying to balance being subject to the empire but secretly supportive of the Rebellion. It even influenced my interest in Sim City and similar games as a way to enact political scenarios in my mind. I would even imagine I was a dignitary on a capital warship on a political envoy while I was working as a busser at a buffet inside the casino.

I had always attributed my interest in the prequels as a combination of my love for the EU, my own interest in politics and being the right age when Episode I came out that I just fell in love with a movie others happened to hate.

It never occurred to me that the reason I enjoyed the movies with the most politics in them isn’t just because I was into politics, but it was because it was the very franchise itself that sparked my original interest in the field in the first place.

Why am I writing this now, today? Because of the connection with the 4th of July. You see I am a day dreamer of course. You don’t get to be a very good writer/storyteller if you aren’t. So I used to always lay in bed imagining that I was on a planet in the Star Wars  universe in a heated battle between Imperial and Rebel forces every Independence Day. The sound of the fireworks and the way they lit up the night sky was the perfect sensory enhancement to maintain that illusion. To this day I can’t do anything on the 4th without thinking of Star Wars. Not to mention the way my brain associates Star Wars with the Will Smith film ID4. It all kind of goes together for me.

This Fourth of July I am hoping to celebrate with my own re-watching of the two Star Wars films I associate the most with the holiday, the original A New Hope and of course, the Phantom Menace. I missed May 4th but there’s no reason you can’t have a May the Fourth be With You on the Fourth of July, is there? #StayCool.

My experience exploring the WWE Network during the one month free trial

This is probably the first article where I will say up front there is a video in the works. Okay maybe not but there is a video in the works. That shouldn’t stop you from reading this anyways. I will keep this focused on a brief overview of my impression of the WWE Network app and the content library thus far as I explored the 1 month free trial.

I will offer a brief background on how I got here. As a kid I had cousins and uncles that were very into professional wrestling. My dad was not. He made fun of it and its fans. I was torn. During the 90s I witness the rise of the WCW NWO and the Raw is War Attitude Era during the Monday Night Wars. My friends were all caught up on the drama. I was a spectator on the sidelines scratching my head. A friend said, it’s like a soap opera for guys. Another friend said, it’s like a comic book show without the special effects. That resonated more with me so I gave it a try. I was lost and walked away for several years, dismissive of the entire phenomenon.

A couple of years ago I was working at a small town newspaper in Texas. A man walked in by the name of Michael Smith. His professional wrestling name was Sam Houston. He introduced himself and told me the highlights of his career, having been in the first ever Royal Rumble. At the time I heard the name Royal Rumble, knew nothing else of it. Needless to say upon hearing his story, both professional and personal, I was intrigued. His dad, Grizzly Smith, was a bona fide legend, his brother, Jake the Snake Roberts a true superstar. The more I learned the more I wanted to learn. We became friends. I did a video for him, he took me on a road trip to see the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Wichita Falls, Texas. It was great. He’s gone back into his world and my career took me down a different path so we ultimately parted ways. Still, it was an experience I will never forget.

During the time I was listening to the Completely Unnecessary Podcast with Pat The NES Punk and co host Ian Ferguson. They talked about WWE stuff a lot so I became more curious. I decided to give it all a shot and started watching some Pay Per Views and things with friends. I was still lost and gave up after a few weeks.

Last year I bought a home. As a result I installed an antenna to get OTA reception on my TV set. I was flipping through the channels and stumbled upon Friday Night SmackDown. I became enamored with the action and the beef between some guy named Corbin and a clown getting dog food dumped all over himself. I decided okay I will give this an honest try. I read up. Did my homework and learned the ins and outs of the sport/show. I came at it from the perspective of a former TV producer. I decided to treat it like a TV show, with seasons, story lines, characters etc., Thus I decided I was going to follow SmackDown live each Friday night as time permitted. Then I would catch up on the WWE Network. I downloaded the app, signed up for the free trial and  began exploring the content.

Library.

Vast. That is the one word that described the amount of content available in their library. Even though it is a single topic it has Netflix and Hulu beat by shear amount of videos available to watch. I am not saying everything is worth viewing but it’s all there, for the most part. I was disappointed to learn SmackDown was a month behind the broadcast so keeping up was going to be a challenge.

Exploring.

I started with some random matches of people I remembered. Andre the Giant, Macho Man, Hulk Hogan, Bam Bam Bigalo, a few others who’s names stuck in my brain. Then I shifted. I went through the first few years of Nitro, all the way through the NWO take over. I watched the first season of Monday Night Raw. I watched the corresponding Pay Per Views as they arose during the season. So if they were promoting a specific pay per view that episode of Raw, upon completion I immediately dove into said PPV and kept going, not skipping a beat. After a few weeks of this, seeing some of the documentaries and continuing to explore some of the catalog stuff, I decided to settle into my groove.

The discovery.

I kind of like it. I mean kind of as in more than I thought I would. I finally, at least marginally understand it more than I did before. I kind of get kayfabe now, I kind of understand how the story lines work and what is going on. Before I never knew anything just it was a mess and never made sense. I also get the rules of the matches and the moves now. It makes for a far more entertaining experience. Plus my heart beats for Nikki Cross I will thoroughly enjoy watching her career unfold.

Going forward.

Right now my viewing habit is centered around going through last year of SmackDown and dabbling in Raw to get caught up. I will continue to revisit the old Raw episodes as go though the seasons as I find time watching documentaries that pique my interest along the way. Then I will keep my eye out on certain PPV events that I will consider watching as they happen. Right now I have made plans to make a day out of watching the Royal Rumble this year. I will also look forward to seeing Wrestlemania when it happens. I have recently watched TLC and Survivor Series as a starting point.

Each week I intend to watch SmackDown on Friday nights live, as life allows. Then I will go through the backlog on weekends and as I find the time. My goal is not to consume every piece of content in that library, I’d decay into a rotten corpse before time would allow. However I have mapped out the path I wish to follow.

Hulkamania.

First path I want to follow is the rise of Hulkamania through the turn to heel. I will watch every match, TV show and PPV that featured Hulk Hogan and watch his career unfold. I will take detours to follow Macho Man and Rick Flair along the way to see how things go there. I expect this to be a process that will take time. My intention is to do so sporadically, maybe get through a few matches and one PPV a week. Once I complete this story line or saga I will shift to the next super star I intend to follow.

Stone Cold Era

I want to start with his debut and follow his career in the same fashion as Hogan. There’s not half as much content to get through so it shouldn’t take nearly as long. All along the way I will be skipping the filler stuff I don’t care about, except with the PPV’s I have a separate plan for those. The only side quests I will follow here is the team up with The Rock and maybe see where that goes.

Mankind

After watching the Monday Night War episode on this guy I fully want to go back and watch the entire career of Mick Foley from Mankind to his other incarnations. This is the only one aside from Hogan I intend to watch the interviews as well as the matches.

Pay Per Views

During this exploration my hope is to get through the entire Wrestlemania and Royal Rumble saga. I watched the first seven Royal Rumbles in a row and did the first three Wrestlemania’s already. I will watch them in their place, or at least the respective matches that pertain to the sagas as I follow so these I will watch out of order first viewing as they arise and then a full run as I go back and watch them one after another. Due to the run times this will be a long term commitment.

In the meantime I am only watching these older sagas in small doses. I won’t binge a Hogan series but I will watch a few matches, a PPV and the aftermath maybe each week or so.

Overall I am enjoying exploring all the content available. Right now I am making Jan 1 2019 the starting point and working forward from there. I will view all the Smackdown episodes, in order, in conjunction with the corresponding Raw on the app with PPV’s as they arise. I don’t have cable so the only chance I have of viewing Raw timely is on YouTube apparently so I will try to take advantage of that, once I am caught up.

NTX is on my radar but right now I want to focus on the main stuff. Once I am caught up, hopefully before this year’s Wrestlemania, I will go back to the start of King Corbin and follow his career to today. I might do the same with Roman Reigns, Danial Bryan and The Fiend but I am not sure yet. Overall I am really enjoying the content as I am exploring this wide world of sports entertainment I missed out on over the years. Stay Cool.